Teachers: How to Price Your Services for Learning Pods

As you negotiate and set your salary or hourly rate with families establishing learning pods, consider your needs, as well as your worth.

Teachers: How to Price Your Services for Learning Pods

Pricing items may seem easy, and to a point, even trivial. But when it comes to pricing out our own services, pricing can become a difficult task to complete. What do I look for, and where should I start? How do I know how much my services are worth?

The idea of a learning pod is still green for many schools and families; they don't know the best price for a private teacher. We've seen many price points being set. A typical price range for an individual teacher to guide a learning pod can range anywhere from $30-100 (or more!) per hour depending most heavily on whether a teacher is part-time or full-time, with one child or multiple children.

That said, there does not yet seem to be a limit to what a learning pod can cost — and what a teacher can make. As we navigate the uncertainties the pandemic has brought upon us, there is no set-in-stone price. It all depends on the variables both parties (families or employers and teachers) consider to be weighted.

To understand how much you should price your teaching services, let's examine the most common variables.

What To Consider When Pricing A Learning Pod

There are many types of learning pods. A family may hold a learning pod with one or more children, and one or more families may structure learning pods with kids at roughly the same grade level.

The structure of the learning pod you partake in is very important when considering the price range families will want to pay. Here are some variables to consider:

  • The number of families and students involved in a learning pod. Although the average number of students in a learning pod is usually less than 10 per pod, remember that each child will need individualized attention, and oftentimes more children means more grade levels and lesson planning and grading. Not to mention, involving yourself with more people will increase the risk of exposure to the corona virus. That said, learning pods are still more controlled environments than teaching a classroom full of students.
  • The number of curricula facilitated. The range of grade levels you may assist is a huge factor. The amount may vary from pod to pod, but you may have a household with a first-grader, a third-grader, and a sixth-grader or two families with kids in the same grade level. While it may be the same number of students, any teacher knows that multiple grade levels will certainly increase the amount of work outside of pod time.
  • Are the students enrolled in school? According to our data, 90% of parents want the educator to facilitate their virtual curriculum provided by the school. In some instances, the teacher may be asked to supplement the already existing coursework. If the student is not enrolled in any school, you will have to provide a lesson plan and work with the family to establish an individual curriculum.
  • Learning environment structure. What is the structure of your learning pod? It can be in-person, online, or a hybrid format where the teacher only comes on-site for a set number of days determined by the family and the teacher early on.
  • The time commitment to the pod. What are the number of hours you will have to commit to the learning pod? You should also consider any prep time you need for lesson planning and other activities if required. The number of hours you commit to will determine if you will be hired as a part-time or full-time teacher.
  • Duration of the learning pod. Will the learning pod last a semester, the full school year, or is this an indefinite term? And what commitment from the family will you require to be comfortable with the term?
  • The benefits typically associated with school employment. Most families won’t be able to offer health insurance, let alone retirement. And a year away from school may mean a loss on the salary scale when you return. That doesn’t make learning pods any less viable of an option this year. Factor in what you would have made to determine your salary with a school, and then use that information as you consider your hourly or annual rates for learning pods.

Understand Your Role as a Private Teacher

Your level of involvement and your role will influence the rate you may charge. To give you a baseline, we came up with three typical roles for private teachers and educators.

  • Tutors: A tutor may work less than 10 hours a week by facilitating assignment support from the virtual curriculum provided by the school. There is no need to prepare lessons or have additional activities to offer.
  • Curriculum Facilitators: Children in this case are enrolled in an existing school. Parents want a curriculum facilitator to support their children in completing a provided, and often, remote learning-based curriculum. This type of position typically ranges from 10 to 30 hours per week.
  • Full-time Curriculum Providers or School Replacement: Private teachers that encounter this type of position, where parents decide to dis-enroll their kids from school, usually work 30+ hours per week. This position may require a full lesson plan and supplementary or extracurricular activities to complement student learning.

Calculating your Hourly Rate or Annual Salary

Pricing a learning pod is no exact science. With COVID destabilizing our economy, it isn't easy to know how much families should be paying, and teachers aren't always sure what they should be asking. But bottom line: ask for what you're worth. And right now, you're in demand.

The price tiers mentioned above are a reference based on our data. However, these can fluctuate depending on:

  • Your state or region
  • Your years of experience
  • The number of students
  • The number of curricula
  • And any other supplementary activities or lesson planning required for the job

One quick way to understand how much you could be paid as a private teacher is by researching the average salary for a district school educator in your city or state. Then, add in the benefits package (e.g., insurance, and the pension/retirement you would have earned that year), as well as the salary step you may be giving up by leaving the school setting for the year. That's your baseline annual salary, your breakeven.

From your baseline annual salary, you can back into your baseline hourly rate by dividing the annual salary by the number of instructional days and again by the typical hours worked per day (including prep time).

For example, let's say your annual salary last year at your school was $60,000. The annual benefits package was worth $10,000 and you're losing the expected salary step up of $2,500. Your baseline annual salary is $72,500.
Assuming 180 instructional days per year and 7 hours of work per day (9am - 3pm plus 1 hour of prep time), $58 per hour is your baseline hourly rate.

Once you've backed into or set your baseline hourly, it's time to think about your asking rate. Your asking rate is defined as the rate that you feel compensates you fairly and/or that you'd be happy leaving a school-based role for a learning pod. It is a likely higher rate than your baseline rate and reflects the potential need for compensation for additional factors and/or tradeoffs you are making:

  • Simply, supply and demand – you may have outstanding offers for a higher hourly rate from parents
  • Consider if your hourly rate is traditionally for one student, what happens if there are two are three? And what's the difference if they are all the same grade level, or if you're teaching a range of levels?
  • Factor in prep or lesson planning time for the learning pod
  • Uncertainty of the family and learning/working environment (e.g., potentially have to find another family next year)
  • Health and safety concerns (i.e., if learning pod is conducted in-person)
  • Transportation costs

To simplify things, it may often be easier to communicate to families your hourly rate, rather than an annual salary. Or if, for example, parents are hiring you for a full-time, full academic year role and want to know your expected annual salary, not only stating the annual rate, but breaking down all the factors that went into your annual salary calculation will help build trust and transparency:

  • Rate per hour (per child, if it increases based on the number of children in the learning pod)
  • Hours worked per day
  • Number of instructional days in the school calendar

If you already tutor, for example, you can also take your hourly rate and simply multiply it by the number of hours required for each learning pod and again by the expected number of instructional days to determine an annual salary for the role.

Once you have a baseline hourly rate or baseline annual salary and your asking rate, you can weigh the unique variables of each pod to understand your price range and how to negotiate your rate. And remember, it's OK if your rate for one learning pod looks different than it does for another. We don't always have that luxury when hired by a school, but for how varied pods are from one to the next, do the math each time - you'll thank yourself later.

Pricing your services as a teacher during the pandemic is no exact science. There are many factors to consider. With the correct information and variables to balance, you should be able to simplify the process of pricing your services.